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New 'Research' on the Battle of Agincourt

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    Posted: 21 Jul 2011 at 01:21
A article on the Battle of Agincourt has recently been published on the Guardian website. I would be interested in finding out what some other people think about this brand of 'research', and also whether the argument itself holds weight, so to speak.



Heavy armour would have exhausted the French at Agincourt, say scientists

Tests involving volunteers running on a treadmill in medieval armour suggest the French were too knackered to fight

Would the battle of Agincourt have turned out differently if the French had worn lighter armour? Perhaps, say researchers who have discovered that the heavy steel-plate armour worn by the French would have exhausted them before the fight with the English had even started.

No self-respecting medieval knight went into battle without a suit of shining steel armour. A typical suit would have comprised steel plates covering the chest and back, plus leg and arm components, all weighing at least 30kg. Compared with wearing no armour, the steel plates would have doubled the effort required to move around and fight, according toGraham Askew, a lecturer in biomechanics at Leeds University, who led the research.

He asked staff at the Royal Armouries Museum in Leeds to walk and run on a treadmill while wearing different types of armour. All were exact replicas of armour made in the 15th century and included English, Milanese and German designs.

"While they were doing that, we were collecting the air they breathed out," said Askew. "We were able to measure how much oxygen they were using and that tells us how much energy they're using as they're moving at each of those speeds."

The results, published on Wednesday in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, showed that people wearing armour expended up to 2.3 times as much energy while walking and 1.9 times as much energy while running compared with wearing no armour.

The doubling effect was greater than could be accounted for by the extra weight of the armour alone. The researchers worked out that if the knights had carried the total weight of the armour in a backpack, they would have experienced just 1.7 times their unloaded energy expenditure.

"Carrying a load of about 30kg spread around the body requires more energy than carrying the same load in a backpack," said Askew. "This is because, in a suit of armour, the limbs are loaded with weight which means it takes more effort to swing them with each stride. If you're wearing a backpack, the weight is all in one place and swinging the limbs is easier."

In addition, the armour constricts breathing. "Being wrapped up in a tight shell of thick steel makes one feel invincible, but also unable to take a deep breath," said Federico Formenti of the University of Auckland, who was a co-author of the research. "You feel breathless as soon as you move around in medieval armour, and this would likely limit soldiers."

He speculated on how the burden of all the armour might have affected the course of the battle of Agincourt in 1415, in which Henry V's lightly armoured soldiers defeated the French army. A key feature of the battle was that the French knights had to advance across a very muddy field towards English archers.

Formenti said there would have been a very high cost associated with moving through mud in heavy armour, suggesting that the French knights were exhausted by the time they reached the English. "[This] contributed to the killing of a lot of the French knights, despite the fact that there were many more French than there were English soldiers."


http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2011/jul/20/heavy-armour-french-agincourt


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 Jul 2011 at 01:55
Nice pun in the opening paragraph.

I dismiss this article as the usual journalistic ploy of trying to generate a story when there isn't one. Journalists need to present interesting stories to their readers, and when nothing is going on they seek to twist something into a story when it isn't one. This is a certain case of that.

Yes, some of the English Britons were more lightly armoured than the French, but those were primarily the archers. The Briton billmen on foot and the dismounted Briton knights were as heavily armoured as the French and it was those soldiers which endured the heaviest melee activity and absorbed the brunt of the French impact.

The muddy field removed the French capacity for the shock cavalry charge, which was the primary purpose of the knights. But it didn't invalidate the numbers or fighting ability of the French. What did do this was the situation of the Briton stand, atop a muddy hill with dense forest leading up both sides parallel to the two armies on an acute angle. This caused the French to become ever more crowded as the upvanced uphill against the Britons. Combining the uphill slog with the progressive crowding and made all the worse by the tangled mass of bodies carried forward by the French host who had been felled by Briton bodkin arrows and you have a knightmare situation where the French were unable to bring their superior numbers to bare or to flank the Britons. Combine that with a fierce resistance by the Britons whose only choice was win or die, and the results speak for themselves.

Being lightly armoured can have distinct advantages when facing more heavily armoured opponents in certain situations, such as the clashes between the Poles and Mongols in the 1240s. But this situation wasn't one of them.


Edited by Constantine XI - 21 Jul 2011 at 01:57
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Zagros Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 Jul 2011 at 11:29
Would like a validation and clarification of your use of the term Briton since there were Britons on both sides.  If you are referring to those from Great Britain then calling them Britons is a bit silly since most of the nobles were of French descent, the foot soldiers Anglo-Saxon and many of the Archers Welsh.  But they were all fighting for the English sovereign so just calling them English, as do most sources, would suffice.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Windemere Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 Jul 2011 at 14:40
It seems that most history books use the term "Briton" to apply to the natives of the island of Great Britain, and use the term "Breton" to apply to the French natives of the province of "Brittany" (Bretagne). The English knights of French descent are often referred to as "Anglo-Normans".

Edited by Windemere - 21 Jul 2011 at 14:55
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Zagros Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 Jul 2011 at 16:31
I find it weird that the term English was deliberately scored out by CXI and replaced with Briton...  There is no authority for it.

Several points:
1.  The resemblance of the name Brittany to that of Britain is not coincidental.  The natives are Celts and their Celtic language is still alive today,  I imagine it would have been even more prolific then, they were not Francophones.  These people were akin to Brythonic Celts of southern England.
2. Greater Britain is the main British island and Lesser Britain is Brittany in France.
3. Using the term Briton is misleading because it refers to natives residing throughout the whole of the British isles and is homonymous with the term for natives of Brittany (English/French spelling aside). As far as I know there were no Scots on the English side - morally, if not materially, the contrary is true.  And that overlooks the important fact that "Bretons" fought on the French side.
4. The term was not in contemporary use during Agincourt and certainly the English forces did not refer to themselves as such.


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Windemere Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 Jul 2011 at 17:14

That's true, in current  popular usage it seems that 'Briton' refers to any inhabitant of Great Britain, whether they be English, Scottish, or Welsh. In historical usage it refers to the original (Celtic) Brythonic people who inhabited the island of Britain before the Romans, Ango-Saxons, and Normans came.

I think that 'English' is a good inclusive term to use for the 'Anglo-Saxon' and 'Anglo-Norman' ethnic groups who eventually, over time, merged into the English nationality, and it would include both of these groups who fought  together at Agincourt. The Welsh who fought alongside them could probably be properly called 'Britons', but in order to avoid confusion, as that term now  ( to the general public) signifies all people  of British nationality, they might better be identified as 'Brythonic' (which is synonymous with 'Briton', but at least avoids confusion with the modern usage). The French 'Bretons' from Brittany,  fighting on the opposite side,( although ethnically the same as the Welsh 'Brythonics'), at least distinguishes  and makes obvious their nationality. I suppose that this is what happens, when over the course of centuries, words change their meanings, and connote different things to different people.
 
Henry Branagh's 1989 production of "Henry V" has an excellent scene of the Battle of Agincourt, both the actual fighting and the aftermath. The heavy armor, especially of the French, is depicted. The English knights are also armored, some heavily and others less so. The French knights are actually shown  suiting up during the preceding night, or in the early dawn hours, as it took them so long to don the heavy armor. The muddy field is also well depicted. This production of 'Henry V' also has a moving musical score. Though it doesn't very well reflect the fact of the English side being at the top of a hill, while the French had to advance upward to attack them, it more seems to give the impression of fighting on level terrain. It also seems to leave out the forested terrain mentioned above.
 
Modern infantry soldiers, when they suit up in  NBC (nuclear-biological-chemical) protective gear, including gas-masks, and have to fight or perform physical labor, must go through a similarly exhausting experience to the old armor-clad troops, especially in very hot weather.


Edited by Windemere - 21 Jul 2011 at 17:34
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote drgonzaga Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 Jul 2011 at 17:14
Hey folks this is a History Forum and if we are going to speak of Britons we had best be in the 5th century BC! If you are not among the Atrebantes, Belgae, Brigantes, Cantiaci, Carvetelli, Catuvellauni, Coritani, Cornovii, Deceangi,Demetae, Dobunni, Dumnonii, Durotriges, Iceni, Ordovices,  Parisi, Regnenses, Silures, or Trinovantes, then you are most definitely not a Briton! CXI (pace #9) is more or less correct as for the cited article why not just conclude that the surmises of junk science have a certain attraction to writers direly in need of "publishing" so as not to "perish"--frankly such efforts at padding the CV is one of the major reasons why the writing of good History has been much abused of late.

Edited by drgonzaga - 21 Jul 2011 at 17:20
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Zagros Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 Jul 2011 at 18:34
Originally posted by Windemere Windemere wrote:

That's true, in current  popular usage it seems that 'Briton' refers to any inhabitant of Great Britain, whether they be English, Scottish, or Welsh. In historical usage it refers to the original (Celtic) Brythonic people who inhabited the island of Britain before the Romans, Ango-Saxons, and Normans came.



That's not entirely correct.  I believe they called most of modern Scotland Caledonia.  Ireland was Hibernia.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 Jul 2011 at 00:11
Originally posted by Zagros Zagros wrote:

I find it weird that the term English was deliberately scored out by CXI and replaced with Briton...  There is no authority for it.

Several points:
1.  The resemblance of the name Brittany to that of Britain is not coincidental.  The natives are Celts and their Celtic language is still alive today,  I imagine it would have been even more prolific then, they were not Francophones.  These people were akin to Brythonic Celts of southern England.


I knew of this already, but it means nothing. No more than claiming the southeast English and Northern Germans should share the same demonym because they are both 'Saxons'. It's absurd.

Quite rightly, we have different demonyms for the two groups.

Quote 2. Greater Britain is the main British island and Lesser Britain is Brittany in France.


The former contains Britons and the latter Bretons. Those are the correct demonyms. By the time of Henry V the linkages between Greater and Lesser Britain had been broken for over a thousand years and 'Breton' correctly describes people from Brittany.

Quote 3. Using the term Briton is misleading because it refers to natives residing throughout the whole of the British isles and is homonymous with the term for natives of Brittany (English/French spelling aside). As far as I know there were no Scots on the English side - morally, if not materially, the contrary is true.  And that overlooks the important fact that "Bretons" fought on the French side.


It can refer to natives from throughout Britain, but a group doesn't necessarily need to have representatives from every shire for the term to be correct. As it turns out, Henry V commanded an army drawn from England and Wales which essentially makes up roughly 80-90% of the landmass of Great Britain. If Australia sent an army overseas but it didn't consist of any Western Australians, I would still consider said army to be an Australian one.

Again, Breton refers to people from Brittany. Their history and development became entirely separate from that of Great Britain when Caesar conquered Gaul finally 50 years before Christ. That's a 1500 year history of separate political development, linguistic development, immigration and social organisation. By this time they were very different people living in very different societies, and so deserve different demonyms.

I might even be tempted to consent to calling them Britons had they fought within the host of Henry V or any of the other English kings. But throughout the war they did not, they remained solidly on the French side and did not see any links of kinsmenship with the people of Greater Britain.

Quote 4. The term was not in contemporary use during Agincourt and certainly the English forces did not refer to themselves as such.


Which is why it's strange I have never seen you correct anyone using the word 'Byzantine' and urge them to use 'Roman' or 'Rhomaioi' instead.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Zagros Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 Jul 2011 at 12:06
Still there is no qualification or authority for your use of the term Briton instead of English.   Which as Dr pointed out is only valid in historical discussions of a certain time period or modern discussions since Briton is in contemporary use as a term for British subjects.

PS, correction: England and Wales do not make up 80-90% of the land mass of Great Britain.  Try about 66%.  Big difference.


Edited by Zagros - 22 Jul 2011 at 12:08
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote drgonzaga Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 Jul 2011 at 13:30
Try as one might in scouring the royal titularies of the 14th and 15th centuries, never will any discover "King of the Britons" on either coinage or paper! Edward III, who began the second French interlude, imprinted his coinage with the titulary "King of the English and French and Lord of Ireland" [we will not go into the niceties of "King of Scots" subsequent to 1356]. In fact to find "Britons" anywhere one has to go way back to the singularity of Edred (AD 923-955) who styled himself "King of the Angles and Saxons, Northumbrians, Pagans, and Britons". Hmm, "Pagans"...now that sounds much better as an appellative for those savages across the Manche!Wink
 
 
PS: As for "Great Britain", thank James I (or VI) for its reference solely to England and Scotland (no Welsh need apply).
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 Jul 2011 at 16:13
I agree with Zagros' position. And would repeate drgonzaga's point that the king's title is highly relevant. Henry was King of England, not of 'Britain' which makes it an English army, no matter what mercenaries may or may not have been involved. The question of the Welsh is an obscure one, since at the time of Azincourt there was no Prince of Wales as far as I can see, though Henry had been prince before his accession to the English throne. Wales was administered by the Marcher Lords, feudatories of the English king (until the 16th century).
 
'Briton' has two distinctly different meanings depending on the historical context. In Roman times and in post Roman ones until the Anglo-Saxon settlement it meant a member of one of the tribes of Celtics, Brythonic or otherwise but mainly Brythonic, inhabiting the major British island. In modern times it refers to any inhabitant of the island irrespective of ancestry.
 
While correpondences are never exact, the Britons of more-or-less England and Wales were Brythons, as the Bretons were, while many of the Britons of more-or-less Scotland (like the Irish) were Goidels. I wonder if Eadred's 'pagans' were Goidels from what we now call Scotland. Or were they simply 'Vikings' from Northumbria, which then included territory up to Edinburgh, where Eadred was pretty active? 
 
The question of the role of heavy armour in the mud has of course been a subjsct of diiscussion probably since the battle itself.


Edited by gcle2003 - 22 Jul 2011 at 16:15
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25 Jul 2011 at 07:08
My use of the term "Briton" in place of "English" is due to the fact that by Henry V's time the army at Agincourt was not merely English in composition. The Welsh were a prominent feature of Henry's army on the battlefield. I would be happy to call it the army of the English King, but I feel that calling the army itself 'English' was only partially correct and ought to have another term to describe it.

I decided on the term "Briton" for a few reasons. Firstly, the army was almost entirely composed of people from the British Isles, for which 'Briton' is today's demonym.

Secondly, as had been pointed out, Briton was the term used to describe people from a geographic area which comprised England and Wales during Roman times when the two countries were formed into the same region known as Britannia. By historical coincidence, these same two countries were united during the reign of Henry V and furnished the overwhelming bulk of his fighting force. Also, as Graham has pointed out, Scotland whose people historically were not called Britons, was not at this time part of the kingdom.

Thirdly, due to the prominence of the Welsh contribution in terms of both numbers and the prominent actions of officers and retainers, I consider it somewhat unfair to call the victorious army 'English' even when Englishmen made up the majority of the army's composition. I think it more fair that a term which encompases the ethnities of both countries is used. Similarly, it would be unfair to call the troops fighting in Egypt and Libya in 1941 'English', even though they made up the largest group, when large numbers of non-Englishmen made up Montgomery's army and performed distinguishing service (e.g. Tobruk), and so for that army we use the term 'Commonwealth' troops rather than merely English.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25 Jul 2011 at 11:25

You need to distinguish beween the Brythonic peoples and the Britons. The dividing line between Brythonic and Goidelic doesn't correspond all that closely to the division between 'England-and-Wales' and 'Scotland'.

If you refuse to call the army of Henry V 'English' then there's no reason to call the army of Charles VI 'French'. In modern times wasn't the Foreign Legion part of the French army?



Edited by gcle2003 - 25 Jul 2011 at 11:26
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25 Jul 2011 at 15:19
Quote You need to distinguish beween the Brythonic peoples and the Britons. The dividing line between Brythonic and Goidelic doesn't correspond all that closely to the division between 'England-and-Wales' and 'Scotland'.


But all the people in the territory of Henry V (on the island of Great Britain) correspond with Brythonic populations in the Roman period. The fact that some additional Brythonic populations also existed north of his realm seems hardly important.

Quote If you refuse to call the army of Henry V 'English' then there's no reason to call the army of Charles VI 'French'. In modern times wasn't the Foreign Legion part of the French army?


An army commanded by the French, but not composed of Frenchmen (aside from those who lied about being Swiss or Quebecois).

The New Zealanders were only a small minority in the armies sent to Gallipoli, the Western Front and in the Palestinian campaigns. But the correct terms remains ANZAC, rather than Australian.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Zagros Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25 Jul 2011 at 16:56
Originally posted by Constantine XI Constantine XI wrote:

My use of the term "Briton" in place of "English" is due to the fact that by Henry V's time the army at Agincourt was not merely English in composition. The Welsh were a prominent feature of Henry's army on the battlefield. I would be happy to call it the army of the English King, but I feel that calling the army itself 'English' was only partially correct and ought to have another term to describe it.

I decided on the term "Briton" for a few reasons. Firstly, the army was almost entirely composed of people from the British Isles, for which 'Briton' is today's demonym.


That's like calling Hittites or Byzantines Turkish, since that's the modern demonym for the people of Anatolia.

Quote Secondly, as had been pointed out, Briton was the term used to describe people from a geographic area which comprised England and Wales during Roman times when the two countries were formed into the same region known as Britannia. By historical coincidence, these same two countries were united during the reign of Henry V and furnished the overwhelming bulk of his fighting force. Also, as Graham has pointed out, Scotland whose people historically were not called Britons, was not at this time part of the kingdom.

Thirdly, due to the prominence of the Welsh contribution in terms of both numbers and the prominent actions of officers and retainers, I consider it somewhat unfair to call the victorious army 'English' even when Englishmen made up the majority of the army's composition. I think it more fair that a term which encompases the ethnities of both countries is used. Similarly, it would be unfair to call the troops fighting in Egypt and Libya in 1941 'English', even though they made up the largest group, when large numbers of non-Englishmen made up Montgomery's army and performed distinguishing service (e.g. Tobruk), and so for that army we use the term 'Commonwealth' troops rather than merely English.


Calling Henry Vs forces English is entirely reasonable because they were fighting for the English crown and thus constituted the English forces. 

I still see no viable justification for your use of Briton here.   If you wish to be fair and accurate to the men at arms then you could call them Englishmen and Welshmen. But when you refer to the force there is absolutely no reason for anything other than English.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25 Jul 2011 at 17:06
Quote That's like calling Hittites or Byzantines Turkish


No it's not, because no one ever referred to Anatolian people as Turkish prior to Byzantine or Hittite times.

Quote Calling Henry Vs forces English is entirely reasonable because they were fighting for the English crown and thus constituted the English forces.


Then the same must be said about Australians in 1914, which would also be incorrect.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Zagros Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25 Jul 2011 at 18:42
Clutching at straws there, yes?  No one referred to English and Welsh as Britons in the 1400s and indeed the ethnic make-up of Great Britain had completely turned on its head since antiquity.  "Briton" is a modern demonym - even in antiquity its phonetics were different - a point worth making since you were so keen on pointing out the "e" and "i" variation between the demonyms for lesser and greater Britain.

Now on your other point, it falls down on so many levels that it's not worth the time arguing against it.  1900s Australians and 1400s Welsh? Really?


Edited by Zagros - 25 Jul 2011 at 18:43
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26 Jul 2011 at 00:16
Quote Clutching at straws there, yes?


No, being consistent more like.

Quote No one referred to English and Welsh as Britons in the 1400s and indeed the ethnic make-up of Great Britain had completely turned on its head since antiquity.


Which is why it's inane to accept modern people living in the UK as Britons and yet deny the demonym to the people of medieval England and Wales - areas which more closely corresponded with the reality of Roman Britain in every way conceivable than today's Great Britain.

Quote "Briton" is a modern demonym - even in antiquity its phonetics were different - a point worth making since you were so keen on pointing out the "e" and "i" variation between the demonyms for lesser and greater Britain.


It's a demonym applied to the people of Roman Britain and modern UK but not the people in between (a practice I disagree with because of its arbitrary inconsistency). Was there some Brythonic invasion after Agincourt I'm missing that justifies this rather silly conventionally accepted inconsistency?

I'll call English what they are and Welsh too when referring to groups only or overwhelming from these regions. It simply remains consistent to use the term 'Britons' when seeking a demonym for a group composed of English and Welsh.

Quote Now on your other point, it falls down on so many levels that it's not worth the time arguing against it.  1900s Australians and 1400s Welsh? Really?


It was you that argued that allegiance to the Crown defined the army's demonym. Pardon me for pointing out how that doesn't always work in practice.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote drgonzaga Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26 Jul 2011 at 04:58
CXI no matter how much icing you may wish to apply to this tart, it will not become a best selling pastry. Recall that long list of "Britons" I identified by their Latin names--or did you not note the presence of the Belgae and the Parisii--well, under your reasoning the French King was as much a Briton as that  certain King Hal. Consequently, if anyone is interested in introducing an arbitrary inconsistency with respect to historical names, I am afraid it is you my dear chap. Of course, we could just blame it all on the French (or under your reasoning why not call them Franks) and the little composition known as Le Morte de'Arthur [i.e. The hoole booke of Kyng Arthur & of his noble Knyghtes of the rounde table (1485)].
 
I do not believe Admiral Horatio Nelson signalled from his flagship: "Britain expects every man to do his duty"! Even the contemporaty usage of "Britons" in the colloquial is a little more than bad form, today. In the "modern UK" as at old Lexington among the American poltroons the proper term is the British!
 
Nice try though...Stern Smile


Edited by drgonzaga - 26 Jul 2011 at 19:47
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Harburs Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26 Jul 2011 at 05:10
Originally posted by Zagros Zagros wrote:

Would like a validation and clarification of your use of the term Briton since there were Britons on both sides.  If you are referring to those from Great Britain then calling them Britons is a bit silly since most of the nobles were of French descent, the foot soldiers Anglo-Saxon and many of the Archers Welsh.  But they were all fighting for the English sovereign so just calling them English, as do most sources, would suffice.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26 Jul 2011 at 05:52
drg: I would look more favourably on dropping the demonym Briton for the people of the realm after Edward Longshanks were it not for the fact that the demonym is applied to largely the same people before and after that part of the medieval period.

The inconsistency of it is just bizarre.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Windemere Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26 Jul 2011 at 12:59

Applying the term 'British' to all the people of the modern United Kingdom is fine, and it's the conventional usage. But 'British' is an adjective, and needs a noun to go with it. The term that has become conventional in the public media is 'Briton', even though that diverges from the original meaning of that term. So it seems sensible now to use 'Brythonic' as the term for the original ancient Britons, in order to differentiate it from the modern meaning of 'Briton', as used by the public.

The traditional term used to describe King Henry V's forces at the Battle of Agincourt is 'English', and that's the term used in historical accounts of the battle to include both his English ( Anglo-Norman and Anglo-Saxon) and his Welsh (Brythonic) troops. It might appear somewhat dismissive of the Welsh, though, to modern historians, who think in terms of a seperate Welsh identity. Unfortunately there's no traditional  inclusive term that includes all ( Anglo-Norman, Anglo-Saxon, Brythonic) of Henry's troops.
 
The term 'Briton', in its modern usage, is inclusive, and includes all of Henry V's forces. But that term is uncomfortable to traditional historians, because it diverges from the original meaning of 'Briton', which  to them means only  the Brythonic peoples.
 
There doesn't seem to be any way out of this dilemma. It's one of the things that happens when words change their meanings over time, and connote different things to different people.


Edited by Windemere - 26 Jul 2011 at 14:32
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26 Jul 2011 at 15:11
Originally posted by Constantine XI Constantine XI wrote:

Quote You need to distinguish beween the Brythonic peoples and the Britons. The dividing line between Brythonic and Goidelic doesn't correspond all that closely to the division between 'England-and-Wales' and 'Scotland'.


But all the people in the territory of Henry V (on the island of Great Britain) correspond with Brythonic populations in the Roman period.
I wouldn't bet on it. It was pretty hazy along the Scottish marches, especially in the west. I'm not even that sure what Henry's 'territory' in Britain was.
 
The Gaels had moved into the area after the Romans left anyway.
 
Quote
The fact that some additional Brythonic populations also existed north of his realm seems hardly important.

[QUOTE]
The New Zealanders were only a small minority in the armies sent to Gallipoli, the Western Front and in the Palestinian campaigns. But the correct terms remains ANZAC, rather than Australian.
Yes but there is no correct term for English, Norman, Welsh, Cornish, Flemish and probably the odd Burgundian. There's not even any corect term for 'English and Welsh'.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Zagros Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26 Jul 2011 at 17:06
The Welsh are only Brythonic by modern classification.  Britons were in fact a singular tribe. The Welsh did not historically and do not today refer to themselves by that demonym in English or in their own language. 
 
Quote It was you that argued that allegiance to the Crown defined the army's demonym. Pardon me for pointing out how that doesn't always work in practice.
 
And you show a stunning lack of understanding or knowledge when making this completely invalid comparison.
 
1. Australia at the time of WW1 was an independent/sovereign political entity.  It entered WW1 at its own discretion.  That it had the same constitutional monarch as the UK did not compel it to go to war.
2. Anzacs fought as in separate contingents and to use the term Australians, New Zealanders or Anzacs is valid because they were not merged into UK regiments, whereas the Welsh were part of the same army as the English at Agincourt.  Had Australians joined British regiments as individuals then they could be referred to as British.  It's simple really.  Even today we have the likes of Fijians, South Africans etc who join British regiments and fight and die in Afghanistan yet they are referred to as British soldiers.
3. Wales was a nation annexed by England and was as good a part of that medieval state under its absolute monarch's sovereignty.
 
 


Edited by Zagros - 26 Jul 2011 at 17:15
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Zagros Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26 Jul 2011 at 17:17
Originally posted by Suren Suren wrote:

Originally posted by Zagros Zagros wrote:

Would like a validation and clarification of your use of the term Briton since there were Britons on both sides.  If you are referring to those from Great Britain then calling them Britons is a bit silly since most of the nobles were of French descent, the foot soldiers Anglo-Saxon and many of the Archers Welsh.  But they were all fighting for the English sovereign so just calling them English, as do most sources, would suffice.
You have still that Scottish pride in you!Smile
 
Even if I considered myself a Martian, I would object to this whimsical, arbitrary misuse of terms.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote lirelou Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27 Jul 2011 at 02:24
Back to Agincourt. Am I mistaken in presuming that the orders given on both sides of the battlefield were in French? That being the 'langue' of the ruling class of both nations. After all, they were engaged in what boiled down to a family squabble. And as for Bretons versus Britons, I am reminded of the last battle scene in the Gerard Depardieu version of Cyrano (which I deem excellent, by the way). Here the 'French" (Gascons) are arrayed against the 'Spanish' (Bascos), except the battle colours of both regiments contain the Basque national colors. Not unlike the Irish regiments of the French Army of the 1600s, arrayed against the Irish Regiments of the Spanish Army. And one Regiment (Dillon), fought under both flags. All this, of course, before the develop,ent of modern national identities.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27 Jul 2011 at 11:21

The important issue underlying all this is that by 1415 the 'Frenchness' of the ruling class in England had been submerged in the rise ofthe concept of 'Englishness'. Henry himself was the first monarch to write personal letters in English, and he introduced English as the official language of record in the government.  

At the beginning of the Hundred Years War, 'English' barely existed as a language. At the end of it it was dominant in England. Henry's reign pretty well represents the tipping point.
 
(Note: I don't consider Anglo-Saxon as 'English', old or otherwise.)
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote drgonzaga Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27 Jul 2011 at 16:19
I'm with you here Gcle with respect to the above, specially as regards the written language. After all, the surviving documents of state are in Latin [e.g. the Domesday Book] and no one would presuppose that it was the common language of "England" (or of the "Britons" for that matter] at the close of the 11th century! Interestingly enough, what you assert for English during the course of the 15th century is also reflected in both French and Spanish and is integrally related to the historical phenomenon now called the "rise of the nation-state".
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 Jul 2011 at 00:52
Originally posted by Zagros Zagros wrote:

The Welsh are only Brythonic by modern classification.  Britons were in fact a singular tribe. The Welsh did not historically and do not today refer to themselves by that demonym in English or in their own language. 


I don't see that as a big deal. Otherwise we would have to state that we fought the Deutsch in WWII rather than the Germans.

Quote
1. Australia at the time of WW1 was an independent/sovereign political entity.  It entered WW1 at its own discretion.  That it had the same constitutional monarch as the UK did not compel it to go to war.
2. Anzacs fought as in separate contingents and to use the term Australians, New Zealanders or Anzacs is valid because they were not merged into UK regiments, whereas the Welsh were part of the same army as the English at Agincourt.  Had Australians joined British regiments as individuals then they could be referred to as British.  It's simple really.  Even today we have the likes of Fijians, South Africans etc who join British regiments and fight and die in Afghanistan yet they are referred to as British soldiers.
3. Wales was a nation annexed by England and was as good a part of that medieval state under its absolute monarch's sovereignty.


I can accept this as a fair point. My reason for replacing 'English' with 'Briton' was merely to find an appropriate demonym for the soldiers at Agincourt based on their geographic origin rather than an ethnic term which would only have described part of the army ethnically speaking.

Originally posted by gcle gcle wrote:


I wouldn't bet on it. It was pretty hazy along the Scottish marches, especially in the west. I'm not even that sure what Henry's 'territory' in Britain was.
 
The Gaels had moved into the area after the Romans left anyway.


Still, it corresponds to about 90% or so of the territory in question. It isn't exact, but it is approximate enough to make generalisations.

Quote Yes but there is no correct term for English, Norman, Welsh, Cornish, Flemish and probably the odd Burgundian. There's not even any corect term for 'English and Welsh'.


I suppose not.

Originally posted by Windemere Windemere wrote:

Applying the term 'British' to all the people of the modern United Kingdom is fine, and it's the conventional usage. But 'British' is an adjective, and needs a noun to go with it. The term that has become conventional in the public media is 'Briton', even though that diverges from the original meaning of that term. So it seems sensible now to use 'Brythonic' as the term for the original ancient Britons, in order to differentiate it from the modern meaning of 'Briton', as used by the public.

The traditional term used to describe King Henry V's forces at the Battle of Agincourt is 'English', and that's the term used in historical accounts of the battle to include both his English ( Anglo-Norman and Anglo-Saxon) and his Welsh (Brythonic) troops. It might appear somewhat dismissive of the Welsh, though, to modern historians, who think in terms of a seperate Welsh identity. Unfortunately there's no traditional  inclusive term that includes all ( Anglo-Norman, Anglo-Saxon, Brythonic) of Henry's troops.
 
The term 'Briton', in its modern usage, is inclusive, and includes all of Henry V's forces. But that term is uncomfortable to traditional historians, because it diverges from the original meaning of 'Briton', which  to them means only  the Brythonic peoples.
 
There doesn't seem to be any way out of this dilemma. It's one of the things that happens when words change their meanings over time, and connote different things to different people.


Thanks Windemere, that explanation really helps a lot with my understanding. I found it really baffling that people today use Briton to describe inhabitants of England and Wales during Roman and contemporary times but then hold out on using the term during the medieval period.
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